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Selected Poems of Anne Sexton
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Selected Poems of Anne Sexton

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,101 ratings  ·  51 reviews
This selection, which is drawn from Anne Sexton's ten published volumes of poems as well as from representative early and last work, is an ideal introduction to a great American poet.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published 1991 by Virago (first published January 1st 1988)
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According to Webb’s definition, a poet's voice consists of four major, mutually- influencing components: diction, subject matter, temperament, and style of thought.

Anne Sexton’s writing style is brutally honest, even desperate at times. She seems to be writing poetry from a confessional standpoint, but also one of psychoanalysis, writing poetry is also a way of trying to cure her own madness, but as I read, I wonder if her words exacerbate her illness? Suicide for her is a deep “desire,” even a
Aug 12, 2009 Kaya is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Light summer reading about putting a baby up for adoption and your favorite relative dying. It's an, um, depressed version of SYLVIA PLATH.

And a lot of the poems are rhymey - butt not like Dr. Seuss. It's like Dr. Seuss for adults. In a mental hospital. Who poop the sheets then have to give their baby up for adoption. Then kill themself.
John Orman
Before Ms. Sexton committed suicide in 1974, she left quite a legacy of poetry. She was a rarity in the literary field--a popular poet in the 1960's and 1970's. She is described as one of the 20th century's most original religious poets.

I especially liked this excerpt from Anne's poem "In Excelsis" describing her experience "confronting ocean" at the beach:

here where the abyss
throws itself on the sand
blow by blow
over and over
and we stand on the shore
loving its pulse
as it swallows the stars
and ha
Althea J.
Anne Sexton's poems are windows into who she was. Her poetry was labeled "confessional" which I find a bit condescending as a term, but apt as a description. She lays herself bare, and in doing so, reveals truths of the human experience. At least, the poems that most resonated with me are ones that paint insights into some of my own truths. About the nature of memory and faith, life that is illuminated by death, our capacity to love, about the essence of creativity.

All My Pretty Ones
Menna Kh.
Confessional poetry at its best.
One can only sympathize with her confessions yet glorify her great sense of ability to weave magic through words.
After reading her poems (or some of them) I felt that she's a friend of mine that I can't have enough of her words.
Amazing book.
Laura Rogalsky
I was Anne Sexton for a year..
i saw death's face and blushed
One of my favorites:

The Starry Night

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by
This is a good "intro" book for anyone who wants to read more of Anne Sexton's work. She wrote some amazing stuff, including one of my all time favorite poems, "Letter Written on a Ferry While Crossing Long Island Sound." That poem was published in To Bedlam and Part Way Back which came out in 1960. In 1967 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Live or Die. In my opinion, her work declined pretty steadily after that until her suicide in 1974. In fact, reading this book straight through (it is arranged ...more
Oct 18, 2008 Katie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: for those voices that grow louder and louder. Everyone, I suppose.
I'm sort of in the midst of a love affair with Anne Sexton. I've never seen a poet's work change so much through the course of his/her's life. One minute I'm reading something graceful and funny, and then all of a sudden, maybe but five years later in her career, grim and completely hopeless. The beautiful and tragic part of her is how accurate these transitions are in regards to one's own experience, and for me, the genius of Sexton isn't that her poetry is all that compelling (though it's incr ...more
I Remember

By the first of August
the invisible beetles began
to snore and the grass was
as tough as hemp and was
no color—no more than
the sand was a color and
we had worn our bare feet
bare since the twentieth
of June and there were times
we forgot to wind up your
alarm clock and some nights
we took our gin warm and neat
from old jelly glasses while
the sun blew out of sight
like a red picture hat and
one day I tied my hair back
with a ribbon and you said
that I looked almost like
a puritan lady and what
I rememb
The confessional school of poetry gets a bad rap. Most poets openly deride it thinking it unsophisticated and formally uninteresting. It is (in my opinion) essentially a reaction to modernism in American poetry. It isn't sculptural or remote and that is part of its allure. Anne Sexton isn't as well known as Robert Lowell or Sylvia Plath, but that does not mean her work is any less relevant. Sexton's poems are intense, dark, and well crafted.They are manically beautiful. Even if you hate the conf ...more
I can't believe I haven't read Sexton (except for the anthologized poems) until now. I found myself thinking about Plath a lot, especially when Sexton had poems about suicide using images from the Holocaust or father poems. Sexton's use of form seems different, though (can't put my finger on why), and her later poems have a sort of ... maturity that I guess Plath's didn't get the chance to have. After reading its brief selections, I wanted to read one of her last collections, "The Awful Rowing T ...more
Christopher Sanderson
Top Drawer Stuff, even a bit of Top Shelf Stuff

Josie Talbert
I don't like poetry books very much because there is no story line to the whole book. Its just a bunch of random poems and I don't really find them interesting. However, some of these poems were interesting and some were very depressing so I got through this book pretty fast. I abandoned it because I didn't have any reason to read further. Since there was no story line there was no reason to read further because I wasn't interested in reading any more than I needed to.
Feb 16, 2010 Kirsten rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like confessional poetry, lyric poetry, accessible poetry.
Dear Anne Sexton,

Thank you for your muscular rhythms, your anger, your narratives, your clear-eyed and unromantic views of mothering and sex and familial wounds. Your poems aren't always consistent, but your persona is consistently fascinating. Above all, it seems sincere. Thank you for your uncomfortable confessions; your sadness; your unerring descriptive powers. Thank you, too, for your honesty. Especially for that.

This Reader
Favorite Poems: "Some Foreign Letters", "Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward", "The lost Ingrediant", "All My Pretty Ones", "The Starry Night", "The Abortion", "The Black Art", "Pain for a Daughter", "The Silence", "From 'The Furies'", "From 'O Ye Tongues'", "The Earth", "Small Wire", "From 'Scorpio, Bad Spider, Die: The Horoscope Poem'"
On my second time through this volume, I find myself wishing I could have been there at one of her live readings...
"...And I/ see you as a young girl in a good world still,/ writing three generations before mine. I try/ to reach into your page and breathe it back.../ but life is a trick, life is a kitten in a sack."
Sexton is a powerhouse of rich and deep thoughts and feelings. Her poems are mostly lovely and always evocative. There's a lot of pain here, but also plenty of light and sweet memories. Pay close attention to the rhyme schemes--I've never seen anyone do rhyme so deftly I don't notice it.
May 06, 2007 angela rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you got fire in your belly?
i fucking love this woman. there are times i fear for my future children.. that i may bite their little cherub heads away from their fat necks and eat their insides. but as any good mother would, i'd surely sing to them as sweetly possible before their greasy eye lights went out.
lee lee
many people say sexton is not a good as poet as plath; but i really like her work. too much to write here...i'm planning on writing a critical essay about either her self-portrait poems or her poems about grief. if i ever do, i will post in in the "my writing" section. :)
Hit or miss for me. Never found any of her poems to be bad, just meh. Some were amazing and took my breath away; others made my eyes glaze over while my mind wandered. Despite skimming a few, quite a few more have the page corners turned down for future re-reading.
Probably not the wisest idea to be dipping into this at the same time as reading Jeanette Winterson's memoir about a dysfunctional childhood. The Double Image is powerful and the more personal poems are the ones I found the most interesting.
Bryce Emley
this was a loose 4. some of the poems i thought were kind of bad, but that may be because i'm not smart enough to get them. otherwise there's enough brilliant stuff to even it out to four stars on some guy's Goodreads.
Some of her work is nice. It's okay when you get past the fact that she comes off a cocky, soulless bitch. I wouldn't read this on my own. She had a place in the era she wrote in, but that place is gone.
Got this book and after reading it went out and got her collected works-that is the better purchase though this one is strong in offering an introductory look at her work. You won't be disappointed.
Sue Adel
Definitely she's one of the few perfect people I've read to.
Confessional poetry at it's finest form.
Her poems are full of feelings and so expressive , loved it to the very last word.
Clear and resonant poems about familiar things - kitchen walls, kids in the backyard, fairy tales, clean linens, pills and booze, madness, death, life.

Some women marry houses.
I don't love Sexton the way I love Plath, but she was another "Mad Woman Poet" from my undergrad days. She's a little more predator than I like in my tortured artists.
Ahmad Sharabiani
I see your eyes,
Lifting their tents.
They are blue stones,
They begin to outgrow moss.
You Blink in surprise
And I wounder what you can see.
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  • The Blue Estuaries
  • Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose
  • Collected Sonnets
  • Crossing the Water
  • What We Carry
  • The Making of a Poem
  • The Great Fires
  • This Clumsy Living
  • Selected Poems and Three Plays
  • Contemporary American Poetry
  • Auguries of Innocence
  • Selected Poems
  • The City in Which I Love You
  • Duino Elegies/The Sonnets of Orpheus
  • Collected Poems, 1912-1944
  • The Selected Poems
  • Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker
  • If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho
Anne Sexton once told a journalist that her fans thought she got better, but actually, she just became a poet. These words are characteristic of a talented poet that received therapy for years, but committed suicide in spite of this. The poetry fed her art, but it also imprisoned her in a way.

Her parents didn’t expect much of her academically, and after completing her schooling at Rogers Hall, sh
More about Anne Sexton...
The Complete Poems Transformations Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters Love Poems All My Pretty Ones

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“It was as if a morning-glory had bloomed in her throat, and all that blue and small pollen ate into my heart, violent and religious” 8 likes
“Just once I knew what life was for.” 5 likes
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